Boiler Winter Prep

6 Tips to Prepare Your Boiler for Winter - While the sun is still adding a bit of warmth to these crisp fall days, now is the time of year to make sure your boiler is prepared for winter. To ensure you stay cozy until spring, read the following tips on how to keep your boiler running smoothly and tackle frozen pipes.

1. Regular maintenance - Make sure your boiler is regularly maintained. Some manufacturers recommend that you run your gas boiler at least once a month, even during summer (on a low temperature), to ensure that it works smoothly and that you detect any problems well in advance.

2. Perform spot-checks - You should regularly check the outlets or flues for blockages which may cause congestion and build-up of exhaust gases.

3. Keep your boiler clean and tidy - A layer of dust can be a real problem in causing blockages - make sure that you clean your boiler regularly but never use a dust sheet. Your boiler should never be covered with anything.

4. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm - If your boiler is damaged or faulty, it can leak potentially lethal carbon monoxide which your regular smoke alarm will not detect. Carbon monoxide is invisible and has no smell or taste, so you might not realize it's there.

5. Get a boiler service - Get your boiler serviced and safety checked every year by a professional, in accordance with your manufacturer's guidelines.

6. Avoid frozen pipes - During extremely cold weather periods, if your boiler fails to operate and shuts down completely, it may be a result of a frozen condensate pipe (the pipe which carries condensation from your boiler to your outside drain). It's a good idea to insulate your pipe before the cold weather hits. Below are the steps you need to unfreeze and insulate your pipe:

Step 1 - Switch off your boiler and locate the condensate pipe (usually on the external wall directly outside the location of your boiler). Make sure that you can reach the length of the pipe while standing at ground level.

Step 2 - Warm some water (not boiling, as this can crack and damage the pipe) and pour the water along the length of the pipe, repeating two or three times if possible.

Step 3 - To prevent the pipe from refreezing, wrap it securely with some old towels.

Step 4 (for non-frozen pipes) - After you've thawed the pipe, insulate it using foam tubing (available in DIY stores). This comes in a variety of sizes, so measure the pipe's diameter first.